James Coley
Prof. Cirucci
11-2-2011
Mass Comm


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Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosby show although very different from one another in pop culture history/entertainment they still had a similar general outlook to the people that was from the outside looking in. Think about comparing the juggernaut that is the Cosby show to what was a Juggernaut also in the Fresh Prince saga.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starred a young, flashy, street kid from Philadelphia in Actor/rapper Will Smith. In this sitcom you could argue what Jhally and Lewis’ put down on paper for their ideas about the Cosby Show. When you look at it as a black sitcom and unrealistic a black family could actually live like how they were living. But you can turn your attention to the one aspect that you could look at and ask yourself what exactly was the meaning behind that when you look at the choice of names in both sitcoms Will and Cliff. In the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air it starred Will Smith and in the show his name was Will. But when you take a look at the Cosby Show its name is that of Bill Cosby but his name on the show. When I take a look at it now I realize that the people behind the scenes were smart marketers. They must have thought to themselves and said Will Smith is known throughout pop culture as a rapper and positive one at that so we shouldn’t change his name to anything else because some people know him by that which is his. Same goes for Bill Cosby and the Cosby show but the only difference was that Bill had an old fan base and he has been out for a longtime so we can label the show with his name but change it because people already know who he is and what exactly his message is.

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Another difference that is seen throughout both of these sitcoms and could be seen as another form of stereotype would be that black people need to be around where white people are in order to succeed. For example, In the Fresh Prince there was an episode in which uncle Phil had his friends and neighbors over for dinner and it was mostly Caucasian people were over never a lot of minorities. This shows how they know these people more than they know people in the same field as them and the same skin color as well. The Cosby show showed the same message but only through the kids. Rudy Huxtable had a friend that was also her neighbor and he was a little chubby white boy. This shows how if African Americans have money and live in a big house they automatically have to have white neighbors. They are similar in the messages they give off to the people that view these shows but are they giving off the right ones.

The idea of one thing could lead to another big thing in history. Before the Fresh Prince the whole world was already introduced to The Cosby Show and Bill himself. There is one character that can get compared with the whole Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in its entirety. The character of Pam Tucker in the Cosby Show shows the whole plot of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The character of Pam Tucker is that of Clair Huxtable's distant cousin. Pam is a child of a “single mother” and she eventually lives with the Huxtables after her mom moved to California. Also Pam is a high school junior and she instantly clashes with the Huxtables because she isn’t used to their lifestyle and not accustomed to the way they have a relationship with their entire family. Pam eventually fits in and becomes just another Huxtable because of the time spent there with them. With this being said, you could argue the fact that Fresh Prince of Bel-air was based off of this one character. Will was with his mom before he came to California and the only thing that was different from the characters would be there gender and Will would never change from how he acted he was just exposed to more things and added it to develop his character.

These two characters Will and Pam are the same when it comes down to what exactly people saw them as. These two teenagers are coming from a single parent home and moving to a family that is more stable and you have an opportunity with them to succeed. This shows how people would view this as if African-Americans always have one relative that comes from a dysfunctional structured family and they have to live with the more prominent family. They do that in hopes that they’ll change or better themselves through the experience of living with them. Season one, Episode one of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Uncle Phil says to will “Not so fast son. Now, we promised your mother you were here to work hard, straighten out, and learn some good old fashion American values” this was said after Will was admiring the house and speaking about how he will have a great time staying there. Now, On the Cosby Show season 7, episode 4, Cousin Pam was admiring the house as well but the difference was that no one complained and when Pam said I hope I don’t break or scratch nothing. Clair quickly replied and said “listen big or small this is your home and there is a lot of love in it and we’re very honored and blessed to have you here.” After listening and watching these two shows you can see that the story plot of the Fresh Prince is really similar to Pam’s story for the time that she was on the Cosby show.

In conclusion Jhally and Lewis outlook on what was being portrayed in the Cosby show fits right in what was played on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Between the two characters Cliff and Will the comparisons were made about how they played a role with in society and also the stereotype of the relative that has to live with the more fortunate relative.